There is no cure for epilepsy, yet. Medications do not cure epilepsy in the same sense that penicillin can cure an infection. For many people with epilepsy, however, the medication will prevent seizures as long as they are taken regularly; but, successful drug therapy requires the active cooperation of the patient.
Antiepileptic drugs successfully prevent seizures in the majority of people who take them regularly and as prescribed. It has been estimated that at least fifty percent of all patients with epilepsy gain complete control of their seizures for substantial periods of time. Another twenty percent enjoy a significant reduction in the number of seizures. If patients, in collaboration with their physicians, decide to attempt withdrawal from medications, they should be aware that the seizures may recur and should closely observe seizure precautions. Some individuals, however, have an excellent chance of remaining seizure free without medication in the future.
When the doctor has made a diagnosis of seizures or epilepsy, the next step is to select the best form of treatment. If the seizure was caused by an underlying correctable brain condition, surgery may stop seizures. If epilepsy – that is, a continuing tendency to have seizures – is diagnosed, the doctor will usually prescribe regular use of seizure-preventing drugs. If drugs are not successful, other methods may be tried, including surgery, a special diet or vagus nerve stimulation (VNS). The goal of all epilepsy treatment is to prevent further seizures, avoid side effects, and make it possible for people to lead active lives.